AAMRI eNews September 2014

AAMRI eNews September 2014

2nd October, 2014


September 2014

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – MRFF update, AAMRI submission on e-research
  2. Government update – CRC review Chair appointed, new Department of Health Secretary & more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – Dementia research priorities, clinical trial standards & more
  4. Sector news – Institute openings galore, German/Australian research partnership & more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Upcoming conferences & events

1. AAMRI news

Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) campaign update
In case you missed it last week, we sent an update on the action to date of the MRFF Action Group and AAMRI’s involvement.
We are in the process of lining up more meetings in Canberra to discuss the importance of health and medical research, and will have some Senators visiting various research facilities in the coming weeks.
A huge thanks to those of you who have taken the time to contact a cross-bench Senator or MP to express your support for the MRFF. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver an extra $1 billion in funding annually to health and medical research in Australia and we need your support to help make it happen. For contact information of key Senators and examples of tweets and letters you could send, simply click here.

AAMRI submission on NCRIS e-Research capability
The Department of Education has commissioned a status report into the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) e-Research capability. The report will examine the appropriateness, level of uptake, and lessons learned from e-Research infrastructure developed between 2006-2014, informing future investment and service delivery.
AAMRI’s input to the report can be found online.

AAMRI President featured in Hospital and Healthcare Bulletin
AAMRI President Brendan Crabb was asked to write a foreward for The Australian Hospital and Healthcare Bulletin’s Spring edition. Brendan naturally chose to write about the nation-building opportunity that is the Medical Research Future Fund.

2.  Government update 

Former Innovation Australia chair appointed to lead CRC review
Former Innovation Chair David Miles AM has been appointed to review the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Programme. A total of 209 CRCs have been funded by the Australian Government since 1991, representing a commitment of more than $3.8 billion.
Terms of reference of the review can be found online.

Higher Education and Research Reform Bill 2014
The Higher Education and Research Reform Bill 2014 was introduced into Parliament during September. The Bill includes a range of measures announced in the federal budget, including a decrease in Government funding of the Higher Education Research Training Scheme, the introduction of fees on higher degrees by research, indexation on HECS-HELP debts, and changes to ABSTUDY, AUSTUDY and the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme.
The Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee will report on its inquiry into the Bill on 28 October 2014.

Proposed changes to R&D Tax Incentive rate
The Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No. 5) Bill 2014 was introduced into Parliament in September. It includes measures announced in the federal budget to decrease the R&D tax incentive by 1.5 per cent from 1 July 2014 to take into account that the Government plans to reduce the corporate tax rate by 1.5 per cent. The Senate has referred the Bill to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 28 October 2014. Submissions to the Senate inquiry close on 13 October 2014.

New Secretary for the Department of Health
Mr Martin Bowles PSM has been appointed Secretary of the Department of Health, commencing 13 October 2014. Mr Bowles comes from a role as Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and was previously Deputy Secretary of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, and the Department of Defence. Mr Bowles has also held several senior executive positions in health districts/services in NSW.

Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme roll out
The Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme replaces Commercialisation Australia and several other innovation programs terminated in the federal budget.
The Research Connections stream is now open and includes grants for SMEs to collaborate with the research sector to develop new ideas with commercial potential.
The Commercialising Ideas stream (replacing Commercialisation Australia) will commence on 1 November 2014.
Changes have also been made to the eligibility criteria of the Business Management stream to target businesses in key growth sectors, including ‘medical technologies and pharmaceuticals’ and ‘enabling technologies and services’. Changes have also been made to the minimum turnover and expenditure thresholds and the activities of corporations needed to be eligible for the programme.

$3 million in child health research grants (WA)
West Australian researchers will benefit from $3 million in funding awarded by the Western Australian Government to 16 Perth-based child and adolescent research projects. Grants between $43,000 and $217,000 have been awarded to short-term research projects.


Consultation opportunity: Dementia research priorities
As part of the Boosting Dementia Research measure, the NHMRC is seeking views on dementia research and translation priorities from researchers, clinicians, dementia patients and their carers. The identified priorities will inform the strategic roadmap for the new NHMRC National Institute of Dementia Research. Stakeholders interested in participating should contact Aimee.Reeves@thinkplace.com.au.

Submit your feedback on revised list of standard clinical trial items
The NHMRC and the Department of Industry are undertaking work to improve the clinical trials environment in Australia. A list of standard clinical trial items was developed following stakeholder consultation. The report from the consultation is now available online.
Deadline for submissions is 31 October 2014.

Priorities for ARC Industrial Transformation Research Program – Round 3 
The Round 3 priorities for the ARC’s Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding commencing in 2014 and Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding commencing in 2015 include medical devices and biotechnology.

4.  Sector news

Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute opens
The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) was opened earlier this month as a successor to the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. The ONJCRI is based at Austin Health and will see La Trobe University scientists work alongside ONJCRI scientists and clinicians, making available new discoveries and treatments for the benefit of cancer patients being treated there.

Children’s Medical Research Institute opens new building
Stage one of the redevelopment of the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) was opened on 29 August. The new seven-storey tower will double the CMRI’s research capability, adding laboratory space for an additional 120 scientists.

Peter Doherty Institute opening
The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, was officially opened by the Prime Minister this month.

Wesley and St Andrew’s medical research institutes merge
The Wesley Research Institute and St. Andrew’s Medical Institute have merged to create a centralised medical research institute for the UnitingCare Health hospital group at The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. As well as savings in administration, the merger will create new opportunities to collaborate with doctors and clinicians across multiple hospitals and universities, providing widespread translation of research.

New Centre for Research Excellence in Telehealth
A new Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Telehealth to improve access to health services for people living in rural and remote Australia was opened by the Health Minister in September. The new $2.5 million CRE was funded by the NHMRC.

German/Australian research partnership takes shape
Universities Australia has announced the formation of a major science and research exchange agreement between Australia and Germany. The signing of a letter of intent between the German Academic Exchange Service and Universities Australia starts a process that will see the development of a Memorandum of Understanding cementing a new joint partnership program later in the year. The purpose of the agreement is to encourage universities in Germany and Australia to provide matched funds for established and up-and-coming scientists and researchers to undertake research in their partner country.

New executive director for Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute
Ms Carolyn Mitchell has commenced as Executive Director of the Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute, with Professor Maria Makrides taking on the role of Director of Research.

New CEO for Translational Research Institute in 2015
Professor Carolyn Mountford will be the new CEO and Director of Research for the Translational Research Institute, taking over from Professor Ian Frazer in February 2015.

5.  Reports and resources

Chief Scientist releases report on Australia’s STEM future
Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb has released his recommendations for a strategic approach to science and its related fields in Australia. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future focuses on:

  • Building competitiveness
  • Supporting high quality education and training
  • Maximising research potential
  • Strengthening international engagement

Australia Government’s Science, Research and Innovation Tables for 2014-15
This report provides details of the Australian Government’s trends in funding for science, research and innovation. In 2014-15, the Australian Government is providing $9.2 billion in support of science, research and innovation, down from $9.6 billion in 2013-14.

AIHW report on health expenditure in Australia 2012-13 
Expenditure on health in Australia was estimated to be $147.4 billion in 2012-13, 2.4 per cent higher than in 2011-12 and the lowest growth since 1990-91. In 2012-13, governments provided $100.8 billion (or 68.3 per cent) of total health expenditure. For the first time, the estimates show a decline in the total health expenditure per person from all sources of 0.3 per cent, after adjusting for inflation and population growth.

Cancer Australia audit results
The NHMRC provided more than $0.5 billion dollars towards Australian cancer research between 2006-11, making it the ‘principal funder of cancer research’ in Australia, according to a report released by Cancer Australia. The report also found funding for pancreatic cancer increased 6.6-fold from 2003-11, going from $0.8 million to $5.3 million.

AIHW: Some improvement in Indigenous life expectancy, but gap remains
While significant improvements in Indigenous life expectancy have been observed in recent years, Indigenous Australians have a life expectancy that is about 10 years lower than non-Indigenous Australians, according to an AIHW report. Mortality and life expectancy of Indigenous Australians 2008 to 2012 provides an overview of current patterns and trends in mortality and life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ABS 4727.0.55.003: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Biomedical Results, 2012-13 (First Issue)
This publication is based on the largest ever biomedical collection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, and includes information on a wide range of chronic diseases and nutrition. ABS figures show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experience diabetes 20 years earlier and are more than three times as likely as non-Indigenous adults to have diabetes. A summary of headline findings relating to kidney disease, diabetes, cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, liver function and tobacco use are available online.

AIHW: Estimating the prevalence of osteoporosis in Australia
AIHW has released information about the prevalence and impact of osteoporosis in Australians aged 50 and over. A broad range of data sources show that osteoporosis prevalence markedly increases with age and is more common in women than in men.

Improving dementia data in Australia: supplement to Dementia in Australia
This paper provides an overview of dementia data at the time of preparing the AIHW report Dementia in Australia (AIHW 2012a), and suggests ways in which the availability, consistency and quality of these data could be improved.

ACNC: Curtin Charities 2013 Report
This report on charities summarises information collected via the ACNC’s Annual Information Statements, supplemented by information from the ATO and Australian Business Register. It shows that Australia’s charity sector has a combined 2012-13 income of around $100 billion and 919,000 staff (8% of Australia’s workforce) employed by 30,000 charities. Around 10 per cent of charities account for 90 per cent of income and jobs of the sector. The report also stated that, “it is clear that it is an over simplification and inappropriate to treat Australian charities as a single sector.”

6.  Funding & award opportunities

HeartKids Australia Grants-in-Aid Program 
HeartKids Australia is seeking applications from Australian researchers for project funding of between $20,000 and $50,000 under their Grants-in-Aid program. Application packages can be obtained from the HeartKids Australia office by calling (02) 9460 7450 or by emailing jann.kingston@heartkids.org.au. Applications close on 3 October 2014.

Call for nominations to attend the 65th Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau
The Australian Academy of Science invites nominations from Australian-based early career researchers to attend the 65th Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, to be held in Lindau in Germany, 28 June–3 July 2015. The Science and Industry Endowment Fund is providing financial support for Australians to attend. Nominations close 6 October 2014.

TRI National Prize
The Translation Research Institute (TRI) is offering a National Prize to recognise Australian research that has resulted in a technology or treatment to improve human health. The TRI National Prize is open to researchers across Australia who have spent over 50 per cent of their time working in Australia during the last five years. The winner will receive $25,000 and the opportunity to present to leading researchers and clinicians on their area of translational research at an Awards Symposium to be held at TRI on Friday 21 November 2014. Applications close Friday 10 October 2014.

Young scientists exchange programme to China
Applications are open to the Australia China Science and Research Fund Young Scientists Exchange Programme. The programme is a two-week exchange to China coordinated, in country, by the Chinese Science and Technology Exchange Centre, and designed to offer early or mid-career Australian scientists a platform from which to develop or enhance both scientific and industry linkages with colleagues in China. Applications close 10 October 2014.

Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Virology Research grants
ACH2 is seeking expressions of interest in applied research from scientists to fund research projects aimed at: i) developing vaccine candidates, anti-viral drug targets, novel diagnostics and prognostics for HIV, HBV, HCV or hepatitis B/C/HIV co-infection; ii) molecular tools for tracking epidemics caused by these organisms; and iii) new tests for supporting vaccine and antiviral trials. These grants are intended to complement and translate basic research in the virology and immunology of HIV, HBV and HCV usually initially funded by other granting bodies. Funding is available from 1 January 2015 to 30 June 2016 for grants ranging from $50,000 to $120,000 per annum. EoIs close 17 October 2014.

Half-funded postgraduate scholarships in dementia research
Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation Half-Funded Postgraduate Scholarships are offered to four students undertaking a PhD in an area relevant to an aspect of dementia. Scholarships will be awarded for three years, with a value of up to $15,000 per year (matched 1:1 by the recipient’s institution), plus $2,500 per year for research-related expenses. Applications close 17 October 2014.

2015 Exchange: Australians to Korea
This exchange supports six Australian emerging leaders to travel to Korea to establish and develop personal and institutional linkages with Korea in 2015, rather than supporting current research collaborations between individuals. The successful researchers will undertake two weeks of visits in Korea, 11-22 May 2015. Applications close 20 October 2014.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation grants
The JDRF “Participation of Clinical Centres & Concept Proposals for Clinical Research Studies” Request for Applications for the Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network is now open for online applications. Applications close 24 October 2014.

New round of Victorian Postdoctoral Research Fellowships
Applications are now open for the second round of the Victorian Government’s $1.8 million Victorian Postdoctoral Research Fellowships Program. Applications close 30 October 2014.

veski Innovation Fellowships
The veski Innovation Fellowships is a prestigious program to attract outstanding global leaders in science and research to Victoria. The program is particularly seeking applications from outstanding women in science and research, with a commitment to support 50 per cent participation by women in all veski programs, activities and fellowships by 2016. Applications close 14 Nov.

7. Upcoming conferences & events

Fighting Fat: the latest in the war against obesity, Brisbane, 12 October 2014, free
Leading experts will debate the topic Fighting Fat, featuring discussions about the latest in strategies to overcome obesity. Come along and ask your questions at the Translational Research Institute in Woolloongabba on Sunday 12 October from 10am to midday.

AAMRI National Convention, Canberra, 27- 28 October 2014, free (members only)
AAMRI’s National Convention is fast approaching. The convention includes strategy meetings, AAMRI’s AGM, networking events and a dinner at Parliament House. We encourage each AAMRI member organisation to have their Director and a senior executive attend the convention and Annual Dinner, and a representative of their board to attend the board members’ pre-dinner drinks and annual dinner.

Developing a business plan for China market entry, Brisbane, 28 October 2014, free*
This full-day workshop will set the foundation for doing business in China and provide you with a dedicated China business plan pro forma and the introductory information you will need to commence your own. It is to be held the day before AusBiotech 2014 conference in Brisbane. *Registration is free for Australian medical device and diagnostics companies. Others are welcome to attend, space permitting, but a fee will apply.

Laboratory Management Conference 2014 Sydney, 10-12 November 2014
The conference this year will cover wide ranging topics including changing culture, business process, cost saving and staffing issues. AAMRI members can access a discounted rate by typing ALMA14 when registering.